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Federal government accepts calls for Royal Commission on Veterans' Suicide

The Morrison government announced on Monday it would launch a Royal Commission into veteran suicides, with the Minister for Veterans Affairs telling FlowNews24 he looked forward to working with the Commission.

Whilst all sides of politics have been united in the need for an inquiry into veteran suicides, the debate has raged for months over the format of such an inquiry. The Morrison government had resisted the inquiry being a Royal Commission but fell into line with the general sentiment on Monday.

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Darren Chester said:

“Service in the ADF is largely a positive experience for a majority of our men and women and they do transition very well normally into civilian life.
"But for those who may struggle, for physical health reasons or mental health reasons, I think the Royal Commission will help develop the best possible policy responses, as we deal with this issue of suicide amongst our veteran community."

Labor Opposition leader Anthony Albanese tweeted:

"Today is a victory for veterans and the tireless campaigners for a royal commission into veteran suicide. Campaigners like Julie-Ann Finney, who lost her son David to suicide in 2019, and has been demanding that the government act."

South Australian Premier Steven Marshall welcomed the Federal Government’s confirmation of a Royal Commission into Veteran Suicide.

“Since the beginning of the war in Afghanistan, we have lost more veterans to suicide than soldiers killed in combat.
“More than a dozen veterans have taken their own lives this year. Labor has been calling for a royal commission for some time now. It is well past time.
“Over a number of years many in the veteran community have voiced the need for a Royal Commission into veteran suicide and I welcome the Prime Minister’s announcement today.

Minister Chester hoped the moment would unite the veterans' community:

“It’s important that we seek to unite our veteran in our common goal to improve well-being of all our veterans.
“This is an important announcement and one that I’m looking forward to working with the veteran’s community on implementing."

Prime Minister Scott Morrison stated that he hoped the inquiry “will be a healing process, by which veterans and families can find some comfort.”

Australian Greens Veterans spokesperson, Senator Jordon Steele-John said that it had been a hard slog to get to this point.

"Anybody who has spoken with a family that has been touched by suicide will know the pain that they feel and the desperate, urgent need for answers they all share about why so many of our veterans are being driven to take these actions."

South Australian independent senator Rex Patrick commended those who had campaigned for a Royal Commission:

Tasmanian senator Jacqui Lambie noted she had called for the Royal Commission in her first speech to parliament, tweeting on Monday:

"In my first speech as a Senator, I called for a Royal Commission into veteran suicide. It's the end of a long fight. For me, for Julie-Ann, for Karen, for Colleen, for Nikki, for too many to name. Today's the end of a fight, and the start of a whole new one."

The announcement of the Royal Commission comes alongside the Morrison government's recent confirmation that Australian troops would leave their posts in Afghanistan by September, to accompany US President Joe Biden’s decision to withdraw with his country’s servicemen and women.

Anyone in crisis or needs to talk about suicide is urged to contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.


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